Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are affecting millions of decisions all over the globe every single day. From locating stores to predicting climate change, GIS is a technology that is seeing the relevance in everything we do. At ReachOut, we are constantly looking at ways in which innovative technology can increase operational efficiency and improve customer satisfaction for field service companies. This is why we are fascinated by the great things that GIS can do for Work Order Software.
In this blog, we will see why GIS integration with work order software could be a game changer for field service companies. We will also give you useful pointers to keep in mind when implementing this integration.
First, let’s look at the workings behind a Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GISGeography provides this definition:
“Geographic Information Systems is a computer-based tool that analyzes, stores, manipulates and visualizes geographic information, usually in a map.”
GIS software connects data with geography to make sense of what belongs where. It provides geographical context to your data and provides location-based knowledge to support your operations. This is much more than mapping. GIS makes connections between information sources and helps analyze and visualize this information through a spatial interface. This information integration capability with the addition of the “where” element is what makes GIS technology so powerful.
When it comes to Work Order Software, GIS supports operations by providing real-time smart mapping. This is important in quick and effective decision making onsite and for in-house management as well. Here are some of the many ways that GIS supports work order management:
Integrating GIS Technology in your work order management system is no doubt the way forward. To implement it effectively, however, you must consider a few vital points.
This is a crucial step in your integration initiative. You must assess your needs based on research and then plan the integration accordingly. Here are some questions to guide you in your needs assessment:
1. Do you want your GIS and work order software to be web-based?
An answer to this will help you assess if the installation of the work order system must be done on local devices or not. It will also help you look for a GIS system that supports cross-browser compatibility. You might also have to check if your work order system requires a client-side application to be maintained for this integration.
2. How is the internet connectivity in your service area?
If your service area does not support good internet connectivity, real-time mapping with GIS could become an issue. Assessing this factor will help you determine if your GIS solution needs offline mapping capabilities. This is important for field technicians in mobile data collection and real-time collaboration with the team when they are onsite.
3. Which devices will your field service technicians be using onsite?
For the GIS to be truly effective, it is vital that field service technicians gain access to the GIS data on their devices. These could be Android, iOS or other devices. Determining which mobile device they will be using will help you find a compatible CIS solution.
Depending on your budget and resource strength, you can decide whether you want Real-Time Integration capabilities or Data Synchronization.
Real-Time Integration is the most effective solution, as it enables real-time collection of data as well as sharing of this information with GIS in real time. GeoEvent Processor, GeoTrigger technology and other technologies have entered the market and are good tools to fine-tune and enhance the real-time capabilities of GIS. Through these technologies, data that is captured in the field can be made available to managers and other stakeholders so they can monitor and assist with projects as and when necessary. Changes can be made directly to the GIS application in real-time through the work order system.
If real-time integration is not a viable option, you will have to opt for Data Synchronization. In this option, changes cannot be made in real-time. They will have to make in the work order software and then those changes must be synchronized to the GIS. This is more prone to errors with change conflicts and overwriting. Understanding your budget and requirements will help you choose which integration is the best for you.
Along with deciding what type of integration you want, it is also important to consider the other systems that you may want to integrate with the GIS. Spatial data can be used to improve other tasks in your operations like customer analytics, billing, credit, and collections, etc. When your GIS is integrated with other important IT infrastructures, it helps you make better sense of your data, streamline work order management and serve customers efficiently.
Integrating GIS technology to your utility customer care operations, for example, will help customer care representatives better communicate with customers. With information on where technicians are working, the nearest locations from where equipment can be sourced and other details, customer care can work in tandem with managers to initiate work orders faster and more effectively.
Integrating the GIS database to your utility billing software and work order management system will help provide asset attribute data and spatial information. Creating a Service Order in the utility billing software triggers a Service Request in the work order software, which in turn allocates the right resources to the request by referencing the geodatabase and closes the order in the utility system once the order is fulfilled. All this is done in real-time, thereby streamlining your process flow effectively.
Keeping these other integrations in mind is also important when you plan the integration of GIS technology into your work order management system.
Work Order Management is ReachOut’s forte. With a finger on the pulse of the latest technologies in work order software, we can help you with solutions that make the best use of GIS technology. Get in touch with us to see how we can make your work orders efficient and increase your team’s productivity.